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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rails and Bails - fix

One of the great things about owning a vintage press is the visible wear that human hands and error have made on it over 100+ years. Last month I thought it was time to repair a nick on the rails that I had put up with for some time by compensating in different ways, but I'd had enough!

There were 2 'chunks' taken out of the rails where the platen had been shut while the bails were left open.  Several times over the past 100 years it would seem to leave such a mess!

Essentially, the bails hold the tympan and packing down on the platen, so when you change the tympan, you need to lift the bails to take it out. 

The problem with having such damage on the rails, is that in that spot, the rollers can dip down onto the forme and over-ink that part of the image = frustrating!

A little research told me that steel putty could do the trick. Steel putty is readily available in hardware shops and if you happen to have someone handy in the family (like me) then you will find it on your shelf. (Thanks awesome husband for these instructions)

1. mix the epoxy to the instructions of the tub.
2. smear the putty onto the damaged area
3. smooth it over but leave a slight bulge so it can be sanded back
4. once completely set, sand back using coarse grit (~320) then sand again using a finer grit (~500)

We made the conscious decision only to treat the damaged spot as once you start mucking about with the rail height, unless done VERY accurately, you can make a mess out of it pretty quickly.

As you can see from the final results its pretty good!

I have needed to re-tape the rails to get the rollers back up to roller height as is recommended.  I use a special tape called UHMWtape/ slick surface tape (127um) - 18mm. I sourced this from Embossing Tape Supplies here in Australia.

Next step was to re-level the platen.. but that's another story!

Bails and diagram of press parts

The damage to the rail
Damage to the feeder board - I love this nick as it shows the 100's of times someone has lifted the bails up and scraped the feeder board ever so slightly, like footsteps on ancient cobblestones.
Bails left open and press has been run crushing the bails against the rails - not good.
Proper position of bails for safe printing.
The gaps and general unevenness of rails before fix (side view)
After repair, only slight dip and much straighter rails - yay!
Plastic steel putty

1 comment:

  1. It all looks so technical! I hope it's working better now!